For the past four decades, Bodrum has provided a peaceful location for artists, artisans and intellectuals seeking refuge from the frenetic lifestyle of big cities. Their presence has enriched artistic production, and thanks to them, you can take home a truly original souvenir. Here are some of the most interesting artists and craftspeople.
Hüsna Bülbüloğlu is an entrepreneur with a passion for handmade sandals. She learned her craft from an esteemed master, and she surpassed expectations by creating sandals that compare to works of art. All Husna Sandals are hand-made in the brand’s atelier near Bodrum, using vegetable-tanned organic leather. Her elegant designs include unusual materials for sandals, such as pearls, crystals and silver.
She works with painter Füsun Ürkün, who draws beautiful floral designs onto the sleek and super-soft vachetta leather. Other designs feature Swarovski crystals and 1000-karat pure silver knots made in kazaz style. Taking inspiration from the ancient Greeks and Romans, who once lived in the area, Bülbüloğlu uses the classic myths and symbols that can be seen on all sides. Feel free to call the designer to book an appointment at her atelier and get your own pair of genuine, made-to-order Bodrum sandals.
This is a success story that spans two decades and two continents. Starting out as a small atelier run by two brothers who design jewellery, Ara Collection quickly became a favourite amongst visitors to Bodrum. They later opened a second store in the beautiful coastal town of Santa Barbara, taking the Turkish gift for craftsmanship to California.
Today, pieces from the Ara Collection – still hand-made in Bodrum – are featured in 200 jewellery stores worldwide. Jewellery aficionados love their sophisticated, hand-crafted designs made in 24-karat gold. The artisans hammer the gold to give their jewellery a bohemian touch. They borrow symbols from nature and history such as snakes, dragonflies and sailing ships, and use them to create organic designs, flowing with the force of nature which is so generously present in Bodrum.
This vibrant store on the road to Gümüşlük is instantly recognisable for the multi-coloured gourds dangling from its porch. The name is a take on the Turkish word ‘kabak’ for gourd. Originally from South America, the hard shell of the dried gourd plant has had many uses throughout history as water bottles, kitchen containers or musical instruments.
This time around in Bodrum, it’s become a lovely design object that spreads light through the small openings carved by Le Kabbak’s artisans. Incorporating elements from local culture such as the evil eye, pomegranate and seahorse motifs, they create colourful and fun lamps that serve as wonderful decorative objects during both day and night. Each ‘Kabbak’ is hand-made and unique. You may see other gourd lamps in Bodrum: if you’re looking for fine work and value for money, you should shop with the people who actually make them – such as the craftspeople at Le Kabbak.
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